November 28, 2013

Softest Ireland: Nathalie Rooseboom de Vries presents How to catch a high-speed train - End to end testing at NS Hispeed”

Softest Ireland host occasional presentations by testers from Ireland and around the world; Janet Gregory and Michael Bolton have been previous guests. These presentations are free to attend, you just have to be prepared to make the time.

Nathalie’s talk was particularly worthwhile. She was the sole tester on the end-to-end (E2E) testing of the ticketing system of Fyra, the high-speed rail connect between Belgium and the Netherlands.

These are the key ideas she shared. Some are borrowed from her spare-time pursuit as a casualty simulation victim, during which she gets to observe medical personnel at work. I’m always interested in hearing ideas from folks who are open to cross-fertilisation of ideas into testing from other disciplines.

  • Draw a talking picture” of the system; a simplified diagram of each of the components and the paths through each over time, for each business flow. Use this to discuss testing coverage with non-technical staff.
  • Ask stakeholders What is your worst nightmare?” Prioritise these scenarios.
  • Radiate confidence. The calmer you are, the calmer the stakeholders will be.
  • Cultivate relationships with the business folks; find ways to get to know your team.
  • Ask for help. Asking for help is very empowering, as it is difficult to refuse.
  • Use checklists - you can’t memorize everything, especially when you’re under pressure.
  • Implement a time-out protocol.
  • When running an end-to-end test, have a pre-agreed signal to indicate a No Test” situation. This is a flag you can raise to indicate a critical issue discovered during a test (but perhaps unrelated to the test being executed). When the No Test” flag is raised, the teams must come together to implement and install a patch on the E2E system. The best Nathalie and her team were able to do from an initial No Test” flag to getting the patch into the E2E environment was four hours.

Interestingly, she also outlined how she got hold of a dedicated end-to-end environment - she commandeered the best acceptance testing rig, and then attached components to it as they became available.

The event was very well attended, and the question and answer session during the second half of the talk was better than most, perhaps because everyone can get their heads around a train ticketing system and so the questions tended to delve into interesting details of the challenges Nathalie faced.

Nathalie blogs at Female funTESTic Fanatic and she’s @FunTESTic on Twitter. Thanks for the talk, Nathalie! Hope your broken toe heals soon!


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